KCDC LTP cover This is downloadable here (pdf).  It runs to 169 pages, complete with fancy graphics and pictures, and needless to say, contains plenty of language for which our book The New Gobbledygook: a New Zealand dictionary and guidebook will be useful. It reminds of council by-election candidate Quentin Poole’s admonition to the council to concentrate on core services and ‘forget the fluff’. How much was paid to the spin doctors to produce this, we wonder?  Almost certainly a sum well into 5 figures.

Unsurprisingly, the most important project of all — building a dam on the Waikanae River to provide long term assurance of tap water to the Coast — is not included. And it makes clear that Waikanae ratepayers are in for an 8.4% rates increase this year.  If your property is in Otaki, however, you’re almost down to the rate of inflation: 0.5%  What, if anything, are you going to do about this, Michael Scott?

The ‘guts’ of this LTP begins on page 12: Major projects stated are:

• Paraparaumu and Waikanae town centres – we will transform these two town centres to take advantage of the building of the expressways. The different projects that make up this work will be undertaken in stages to minimise disruption, with full completion by 2028. Further consultation with key stakeholders will be undertaken during the detailed design phase. Cost = $40.9 million.

Te Ātiawa Park courts -– we will completely rebuild the existing courts in 2015/16 to meet the needs of both netball and tennis users in the medium to long term. Cost = $975,000.

Ōtaki pool – we will future proof the pool – reroofing, recladding and improving the interior including disability access. Cost = $3.9 million. We will build a splash pad next to the pool – entry will be free. Cost = $510,800. Both projects will start in 2015/16 with the bulk of the work to be done in 2016/17.

• Performing arts facility – we will invest in the Kāpiti College performing arts centre, subject to an appropriate agreement about the community use of the centre. We will revisit the development of a community events facility as part of the next long term plan. Cost = $1.6 million towards the Kāpiti College centre with work undertaken in 2016/17; $20.8 million set aside for 2028-31 for an events facility.

• We will replace the Paekākāriki sea wall with a concrete, timber and rock wall – design to be agreed with the Paekākāriki community. This work will be done between 2016 and 2020. Cost = $10.9 million and construction will begin in late 2016.

• We will redevelop the Raumati pool building as a multi-purpose community facility to be up and running by 2020. Cost = $1.3 million.

• We will upgrade the Waikanae Library and partially fund the upgrade of the Mahara Gallery (subject to the Gallery Trust’s own fundraising contributing to the project). The project is phased over three years to be complete in 2018/19. Cost = $9.3 million.

• We will finalise the development plan for Otaraua Park and begin implementation over the next two years. Cost = $101,000.

• We will create a youth development centre offering districtwide activities progressively over the next three years. Cost = $946,000.

• We will assess earthquake-prone buildings over five years starting in 2015/16. (We are required to do this by law). Cost = $2.6 million.”

There should be a categorisation of projects into: A) essential, and B) nice to have, but not essential. Few would argue that the Paekakariki seawall and assessing earthquake-prone buildings aren’t essential, but the rest above are category B.

We asked in our submission why there was a need to spend $9.3 million on the Mahara Gallery and the Lbrary in Waikanae when cosmetic makeovers could be achieved for much less.  Are they proposing to build new buildings to house much greater content?

What does it mean in respect of the Paraparaumu and Waikanae town centres when it states “take advantage of the building of the expressways”? The only advantage is that there will be much less passing traffic as both the Coastlands area and Mahara Place areas are well away from the Expressway.  How are they planning to spend $41 million? No details are given until page 65 when it merely states:

“Our Waikanae plans include creating a ‘cultural pathway’ from Ngaio Road through Mahara Place by integrating the centre with Whakarongotai Marae, creating new green spaces connecting an upgraded Mahara Gallery to the library complex and improving the pedestrian access at the intersections of Te Moana Road, Elizabeth Street and the Ngaio Road entrance to SH1.”

The statement for Paraparaumu is even more vague. On page 19 there is a strategic context about some of reasons for the inclusion of these category B projects, which mentions some general things, but omits emergency management planning.

One of the more relevant factors that is not included about a project that we mentioned in our submission, but which is omitted in this document, is the fact that there is only one crossing point for traffic from Waikanae East (all the areas to the east of the railway line which are home to about 2,000 people) into the rest of Waikanae, and we proposed — as have several others — that an underpass should be built beneath the railway to eliminate the downtime that those who live there experience because of train traffic at the level crossing. This situation is unique in Kapiti: Otaki, Paraparaumu and Paekakariki townships all have level crossings with the railway, but in each case there is also a bridge which can be used as an alternative.  There is no alternative to the Elizabeth Street level crossing, unless you treat the Akatawara Road as this — and it’s a big detour, regularly blocked by slips and washouts in winter!

On page 21 begins the analysis of how the KCDC proposes to pay for all the initiatives proposed above.

“Our economic development strategy is part of a longer term solution. The strategy is aimed at more jobs, and more wealth in the district, to increase the number of ratepayers.”

Some speculation about population increases (or decreases) in different areas, as well as the Coast as a whole, is required, but — we’ll pay for all this by having more ratepayers?

“Increasing water rates to cover costs “As we all get used to the value of water with the introduction of water meters in 2013, water use may take a number of years to settle down. Therefore, we need to carefully monitor trends to determine what to charge to cover costs of providing a treated water supply. We plan to gradually increase our water rates over the first five years of this long term plan, to a level that makes sure that we are able to pay the full cost of providing this service across the district.”

“A gradual increase will ease the rate of change for the community while ensuring we recover the full cost of providing water services. While we will under-recover in the next 2-3 years, we are planning to fully recover our costs by the end of 2019/20.”

By “water services” it really means the enormous cost of installing the totally unnecessary water meters.  Obviously, pipes etc. have to be replaced/repaired regularly, but maintenance work has always been paid for out of the general fund and not identified and charged for like it is now, on top of the other rates.

Few will argue with the need for efficient wastewater, stormwater and sewerage systems (pages 47-63) or on maintaining/improving parks and open spaces (pages 77-83). Page 64 on “Economic Development” includes the statement:

“We will fund business and visitor attraction projects; play an influential role in supporting the development of private and public sector partnerships and local, regional and national networks.”

Like what, please?  We’ve already seen the so-called CleanTech centre in Otaki flop at ratepayers’ expense. Page 71 includes a sidebar about the “youth development centre” mentioned earlier:

“A feasibility study recommended a service that has many functions and allows a variety of activities and tools for the engagement of our youth so that we may develop our young people to their full potential. It will be open to all young people and not only provide stand-alone facilities but will have an outward-focus as well to benefit all areas of the district. This will include setting up a mobile youth service by December 2015. Events and activities will be held beyond the physical space in partnership with existing organisations and we will be inviting the wider community to provide services, experiences and opportunities to young people. The project will cost $946,000 and will be implemented in a number of stages including developing a funding strategy by February 2016 and obtaining additional funding.”

Hmmm.  Keeping bored youths from engaging in destructive pastimes such as vandalism and other crime is a good idea, but we’ll have to see what transpires before we can say more about this.

On page 88, a “Performing arts centre” gets mentioned again; clearly it is someone’s pet notion, but frankly we see no real need for it, given the existence of the Southward Theatre in Otaihanga:

“Council has decided to invest in Kāpiti College performing arts centre in order to provide our community with access to facilities years before our previous plans would have allowed. We will also look into longer term funding of a community events facility in Paraparaumu town centre. We will look at how the different facilities available meet the community’s needs for performance space and consider what other type of facility would suit our community. We will be providing $1.6 million towards the Kāpiti College centre with work undertaken in 2016/17. $20.8 million will be set aside for 2028−31 for an events facility.”

As we said in our submission, there is nothing wrong with a modest investment in the Kapiti College plan, provided ratepayers will get their money’s worth out it.  Nothing is said about how this criterion will be ensured.